Man goes for a ride with a 30-foot whale shark - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Man goes for a ride with a 30-foot whale shark

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(CNN photo) (CNN photo)
SARASOTA, FL (CNN) -

A few boaters in Florida called it the ride of a lifetime.

Charter Captain Jamie Bostwick said that on Friday, he and his friends caught a ride with a massive whale shark near Sarasota.

"That fish was as big as a boat, 30 feet long," said Bostwick.

Whale sharks are considered the largest fish in the world.

"The whale shark basically came right to us," Bostwick said. "It was as curious about us as we were about it."

Bostwick said swimming with one had been on his bucket list. That's why he jumped in, grabbed the animal's fin and hung on for a ride.

"Just because they're such a majestic, large animal," he said. "That's one of the most docile animals I've ever come across."

Whale sharks are plankton eaters. They're not threatening to humans.

"They can't hurt you, but we can hurt them with too much contact," said Mote Marine Shark Expert Dr. Bob Heuter.

Heuter said whale sharks are a protected species. They cannot be caught, molested or harassed.

While he said it was ok to swim with them from about six feet away, he did not recommend touching them. Though, it's not illegal.

"The problem with touching them is they have a mucous layer on the skin that is disturbed when touched too much," said Heuter. "It can compromise the health of the animal in the long run."

Bostwick said the big fish swam with three other people.

"It could have left, could have dove down. We were in 60 feet of water," he said.

The whale shark stuck around for about 20 minutes. Bostwick called the encounter "fate."

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